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Western Union vs. HiFX

We compare a big-name money transfer service with a newer digital competitor.

For more than a century, Western Union has been the biggest name in the business of international money transfers. However, newer companies like HiFX are making their mark on the scene, offering more competitive exchange rates and lower fees. Learn how they compare head-to-head.

Western Union logo money transfershifx
Western UnionHiFX
FeesFees start at $5For transfers below $5,000, HiFX charges a $5 fee.
For transfers of $5,000 or more, there’s no transfer fee.
Exchange ratesUp to 6% above the mid-market rateAbout 0.4% of the mid-market rate
SpeedVaries from minutes to 5+ days1–7 business days
Max Transfer AmountVaries by countryNo limit
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Western Union and HiFX: How they work

Both options allow for easy online money transfers.

Western Union

To make an online transfer with Western Union, visit its site and enter how much you’re transferring and to where. Then you’ll see the exchange rate that Western Union currently offers. Western Union will convert and deliver your money to a bank account or for cash pickup at locations worldwide.

HiFX

To use HiFX, you’ll need to first create a free account as part of your first transfer.

With HiFX, you go to its site and enter the amount you want to send, after which HiFX converts your money and sends it to your recipient’s bank account.

Who offers lower fees?

Western Union

Determining how much you’ll pay with Western Union can be complicated and depends on the country to which you’re sending money, as well as your delivery and pickup methods. While most fees start at $5, they can soar up to $45 when paying by credit or debit card for cash pickup in certain areas. For high-traffic locations such as India and Mexico, however, some agents offer fee-free transfer options.

HiFX

HiFX’s fee structure if far more transparent: For all transfers below $5,000, HiFX charges a $5 fee, and you’ll pay no fee for transfers of $5,000 or more.

  • Winner: HiFX

Although Western Union and HiFX offer similar base fees, HiFX edges out the competition thanks to its clear and simple fee structure, as well as the extra savings it offers when transferring a larger amount of money.

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Who offers better exchange rates?

To understand who offers better exchange rates, you’ll need to first look at the mid-market rate. This is the true exchange rate that averages the buying and selling rate of a global currency — and the rate banks and transfer services use when they trade among themselves.

Let’s look at the rates that Western Union and HiFX offer compared to the mid-market rate.

Western Union

Depending on the country you’re sending money to, a typical exchange rate at Western Union could be up to 6% above the mid-market rate. If you’re sending a large amount overseas, this could mean hundreds of dollars that goes straight into Western Union’s pocket.

We’ll use the example of a transfer to Japanese yen (JPY):

  • If the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 113.28 JPY
  • Western Union’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 108.86 JPY

HiFX

HiFX tends to keep its exchange rates typically within 0.4% of the mid-market rate.

In other words:

  • If you’re sending money to Japan and the mid-market rate is 1 USD = 0113.28 JPY
  • HiFX’s exchange rate might be 1 USD = 112.76 JPY.
  • Winner: HiFX

True to its promises, HiFX offers highly competitive exchange rates with a minimal spread against the mid-market rate.

Who’s faster?

Western Union

Delivery speed varies with transfer options. At an agent location or by phone, your transfer could be delivered in minutes (at higher costs). Your cheapest options could take five days or longer, depending on the country.

HiFX

HiFX recommends allowing up to three business days for it to receive your money. You should also allow up to four business days for your transfer to be cleared by your recipient’s bank.

  • Winner: Western Union

Although you’ll likely pay more for faster delivery, Western Union’s instant transfer option can be helpful in a pinch.

Who offers more options?

Payment MethodsMinimum and maximum transfersDelivery methodsTransfer speedsCountries and currencies
Western UnionBank account, credit or debit card, cash$1 minimum; maximum varies by method and paymentBank transfer, cash pickup, e-walletVaries from minutes to 5+ days200+ countries
HiFXBank transfer, credit or debit card$50 minimum; no maximumBank transfer1–7 business days19 currencies (online); 800+ currencies (phone); all currencies (regular transfers)

Bottom line

Offering competitive exchange rates and simple low (or no) transfer fees, HiFX is a deal that’s hard to beat. Unless you’re looking for an instant transfer (which costs extra with Western Union), HiFX is the clear winner.

Ultimately, however, you’ll want to compare your options to find the service that best fits your individual needs.

Sending $2,000 to Japan

Imagine you want to send $2,000 to your brother, who has recently moved to Japan. Here’s what you’d pay for an online bank transfer with Western Union and HiFX.

Western UnionHiFX
Transfer fee$0$5
Exchange rate1 USD = 108.86 JPY1 USD = 112.76 JPY
Transfer speed7 business days1–7 business days
Total received217,720 JPY224,945 JPY

Although Western Union offers a fee-free transfer for this exchange, you’ll have to pay $60 if you want to speed up the delivery to four business days. Perhaps even more important: With HiFX, your brother can receive 7,225 more yen — about $65.

Frequently asked questions about HiFX and Western Union

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